In Thriving After Your Stroke, Dr. Steven Edgley shares the tips, techniques, and information needed to survive and thrive after what initially may seem like a devastating event. Edgley has not only suffered from a stroke himself, but upon recovery, he chose to use his medical background to spend his life helping other stroke patients through recovery. Because of this background and knowing the pain, doubt, questions, and struggle that arise from having a stroke, he is well qualified to offer advice and comfort to stroke survivors, and most of all, reassurance that not only can you survive, but you can live a rich and meaningful life long after the stroke happens.
Thriving After Your Stroke is realistic as well as inspirational. Edgley makes it clear that after a stroke, you usually won’t be able to recover fully to the point of going back to the way things were before, but you can recover functional abilities. He shares personal examples of how he learned to speak, type, and move around again. Today, not only does he write books, but he also bicycles and even skis, all sure signs that stroke recovery is possible. However, he warns that “Healing is not the same thing as a cure, which most people long for. Healing involves an emotional reweaving of our life story to incorporate, not merely remove, our injuries. It involves growth and personal change, maturation into a new state despite, not in the absence of, suffering. It includes acceptance of our lost innocence, while reaching for greater wisdom. Nonetheless, through struggle, work, time, and guidance, a significant amount of function can be regained.”
Beyond the physical recovery, a great deal of mental and emotional work needs to be done, but Edgley shows that through acceptance and with guidance and support from others, life can begin to make sense again. He compares a stroke to a forest fire. After the fire, new growth and new life arise. He tells us, “Since my fire, my life has been an open meadow with the potential for greater achievement, joy, and love.”
The mental obstacles that result from a stroke can often be the hardest to overcome. Edgley gives advice and examples of how people he has worked with have overcome their doubts and fears to succeed. The mind can be an obstacle, but it can also become your greatest asset for recovery. He discusses how persistence and goal-setting can help you recover function as well as a willingness to adapt and learn new ways to achieve your goals.
The truths in these pages are even pertinent to non-stroke survivors. As Edgley says, “[L]ife, if you are on the right track, is going to be uphill. It may not be an unbearably steep climb, but pushing ourselves to improve, adapt, grow, and serve others, even in the face of severe challenges, is one of the critical components to attaining happiness and a high quality of life.”
Edgley also makes the point that we have to choose whether to see ourselves as the victim of circumstances or whether we will be the hero of our own life, even if that means fighting, crawling, or clawing our way back to being a functioning human being. It also helps to have a spiritual connection. He dismisses old superstitions that a stroke was some sort of punishment from God. Instead, he discusses how God is the champion of recovery, not the afflicter of punishment for stroke survivors. He sums it up as “Stroke boils down to a very complex plumbing problem. That’s it. No more. Nothing supernatural. It’s important to understand this fact so we can put all our energy into the fight that lies before us.” Rather than wasting time wondering “Why me?” stroke survivors can move on to focusing on recovery and achieving a greater quality of life.
Edgley then goes on to detail the triumphs of many of the patients he has worked with. These stories are touching and inspiring and show how not just stroke survivors but their loved ones all take up the challenge of improving their lives. Edgley has been fortunate in that respect himself-his wife has stood by his side since his stroke in 2001, and together they have raised their children while he has recovered and helped countless others recover and regain fulfilling lives.
In addition to Thriving After Your Stroke, Edgley is the author of Between Two Gardens, which is a testament to his belief in God and the spiritual side of stroke recovery.
Whether you or a loved one have experienced a stroke, you work with stroke patients, or you just want a better knowledge of the power of the human spirit to prevail against all odds, Thriving After Your Stroke is a powerful book you will not soon forget.